Teach your dog to be calm in public
Updated: Oct 30
Teaching your dog to be calm in public can be a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Here are some tips you can follow to help your dog become more relaxed.
Create neutral social experiences for your dog: Expose your dog to various social situations from an early age. Start with quiet environments and gradually introduce them to busier places with more distractions. This helps them become familiar with different sights, sounds, and people. This is often confused with allowing your dog to say hello to every person and dog they pass but in reality your want your dog focusing on you. We encourage human interactions but keep the greetings occasional, short and always calling the dog back to for a reward. Leave dog socializing to dogs your familiar with such as a family or friend’s dog.
Basic obedience training: Teach your dog basic obedience commands such as "sit," "down," and "leave it." These commands will provide you with control over your dog's behavior in public and help redirect their focus.
Gradual exposure: Start by taking your dog to low-stress public places, such as a quiet park or an uncrowded sidewalk. Allow them to exposure but also practice training to create engagement in public. As your dog becomes comfortable, gradually increase the level of stimuli by visiting busier areas or places with more distractions.
Reward your dog: Utilize treats, praise, and petting for calm behavior in public. Keep praise and petting short so your dog isn’t amped back up with excitement. Reinforce good behavior by marking the behavior and rewarding after your dog remains calm, ignores distractions, or follows your commands.
Use a slip leash: Ensure your dog is properly trained to walk calmly on a leash. A slip leash can also help with control and provide directional guidance.
Desensitization and counterconditioning: If your dog exhibits fear or anxiety in public, work on desensitizing them to those triggers. Gradually expose your dog to the triggers in a controlled manner, starting with a distance or intensity level that doesn't provoke too strong of a reaction. Pair these exposures with positive experiences and rewards to change your dog's emotional response.
Provide mental and physical exercise: Ensure your dog receives sufficient mental and physical exercise before going out in public. A fulfilled dog is more likely to remain calm and focused in new environments.
Practice at home: Be sure to practice calming exercises at home. We like to do this after a training session or play session (preferably both). Have your dog leashed, go to sit down on the couch and keep your foot on the leash. Give your dog ample time to relax and learn to do nothing while you read a book or check emails on your phone.
Seek professional help if needed: If your dog continues to struggle with settling in public. They can provide guidance tailored to your dog's specific needs and help address any underlying issues.
Remember, each dog is unique, so the timeline for progress may vary. Stay patient, consistent, and celebrate even small victories along the way.